Album Reviews: Young Boys, Suuns, Grave Babies

It’s a good year for post-punk and surreal electro art rock

Grave Babies – Crusher
Hardly Art
From the dour romanticism to the scrap-metal distortion pedals, the sound of these Seattle fuzz-goths at first seems to be exactly the sum of its references. However, there’s a precision here that cannot be understated. Their taste in everything from influences to production is clear. But more than just a groundless stylistic exercise, these textural and emotive gestures only heighten what are simple but often pitch-perfect subterranean pop songs. This collection may be slavish, but these impassioned, blown-out masterpieces pack astonishing clarity of vision and are some of the finest faces of post-punk that’s revived to perfection. Grave Babies’ previous, small releases were but auspicious glimpses. With towering songs like “No Fear” and especially “Over and Under Ground,” Crusher is the promised land. – Bao Le-Huu

Suuns – Images du Futur
Secretly Canadian
With this stunning furtherance of the electrifyingly warped and woozy vision introduced by their superlative 2010 debut (Zeroes QC), the arty Montreal cabal is advancing mental rock into the future better than anyone. Droning and paranoid, the beautifully troubled surreality of Suuns is made especially acute by the unflinching sharpness with which the space is rendered. And though it’s clarified to absolute essence, their sound is a staggeringly deep, seemingly infinite rabbit hole that makes them play like a more focused and finely tuned cousin to Clinic and Radiohead. Tracks like “2020,” “Mirror Mirror” and “Powers of Ten” prove that no one is making music with as much grip and penetration as Suuns. – BLH

Young Boys – New York Sun
Holloweyed Records
With a serious Jesus & Mary Chain jones, these Brooklyn newcomers sound ready to conquer. Though barely beyond local NYC status, their buzzing rock & roll noir is already a realized force. Like some unearthed Death by Audio orphan, their post-punk noise is made particular by sharp pop-craft and smart synth flourishes. The 11-minute title cut rides a hot-burning, power-saw surf lick until it crashes and burns, while “Fell From Grace” and “High Tide” motor effectively with some pulsing, Wooden Shjips-esque drone under the hood. And the grinding, brittle and tuneful “Love Hits” is synth-ribbed Euro-goth romance at its best. Together, they constitute an exceptionally stylish and extraordinarily promising debut. – BLH


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